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UK Government publishes Data Quality Framework


The Government has published its Data Quality Framework for the public sector with an emphasis on five principles.

It has also announced a repositioning of the Government Statistical Service Quality Centre as the Government Data Quality Hub (DQHub), along with launching a survey on the issue.

The framework, officially launched by DQHub, has been developed with a number of central government organisations including the Government Digital Service, the Data Standards Authority and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It is split into two parts, the first providing a structure for thinking about data quality issues, the second with guidance on practical tools and techniques for improvements, and comes with a collection of case studies.

It is underpinned by five principles as guidelines for the creation of a strong data quality culture in your team or organisation:

  • Commit to data quality with a sense of accountability across the team or organisation, with ongoing assessment and improvement.
  • Know the users and their needs, prioritising efforts on the data that is most critical.
  • Assess quality through the data lifecycle.
  • Communicate the data quality to uses clearly and effectively.
  • Where possible, anticipate changes affecting data quality to support planning for the future.

These come with a guide to the data lifecycle and data quality dimensions against which it can be regularly assessed.

The section on practical tools takes in data quality action plans, root cause analysis, guidance on metadata, communicating quality guidance and an introduction to data maturity models.

Need for structure

Writing in its foreword, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the national statistician, and Alex Chisholm, chief operating officer for the Civil Service, say: “Government needs a more structured approach to understanding, documenting and improving the quality of its data. This framework provides that, through data quality work that is proactive, evidence-based and targeted.

“It presents a set of principles for effective data quality management, and provides practical advice to support their implementation. While there is no such thing as ‘perfect quality’ data, we must strive for a culture of continuous improvement.

“All public servants should understand why data quality is important, and feel able to proactively identify and address data quality issues.

“Through improved management of data, government can achieve the high quality data needed to deliver better outcomes for society. For many organisations, this is a journey that will take time and commitment.

“We ask that all government departments endorse and adopt this framework, and work to align their approach to data quality with these principles.”

Role of hub

The DQHub is based in the ONS and has evolved from the team that has been working with stats producers across government to improve the quality of their statistics.

It said its aim is to support organisations in improving the quality of all types of data and analysis across government, the first step being the publication of the framework. Its plans include producing guidance, training and tailored support.

An early step has been the launch of a survey, open until 17 December, to help it understand where it should focus its efforts.

Image from iStock, Natali Mis

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